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Yoenis Cespedes brings legendary athletic ability to Oakland.
Perhaps as you were reading this slideshow, you were waiting to see slides detailing the "shock" value of the trades that sent Trevor Cahill to Arizona or Gio Gonzalez to Washington.
It's not often that young pitchers of that caliber are dealt. Add in the deal that sent Andrew Bailey to Boston, and it could be construed as a bit odd that Oakland would jettison such young and inexpensive talent.
That's Billy Beane, though. It doesn't matter if you've read Moneyball or just seen the movie. By now, most people should expect Beane to be wheeling and dealing more often than not. It wasn't that long ago that guys like Tim Hudson, Mike Mulder, Matt Holliday and Dan Haren were in Oakland uniforms.
Beane is constantly making trades; he trades old guys, young guys and everyone in between.
What he doesn't do that often is make free-agent signings, especially somewhat pricey ones. In the Beane era, free agents tend to "depart," not "arrive"—Miguel Tejada, Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, Barry Zito and Keith Foulke to name a few.
So, the announcement that Cuban defector Yoenis Cepsedes was signing a four-year, $36 million contract with the A's today was a bit of a shock. It's even more of a shock in the aftermath of the early offseason purge of talent already detailed in this slide.
There are a few possible reasons for this deal. One is that Beane in all likelihood really thinks this guy has special talent. There's no way around that assumption. $36 million isn't a ton of money for teams like the Yankees, Red Sox or Rangers. It's a hefty sum for a team whose highest-paid players last season were a pair of outfielders in Josh Willingham and David DeJesus, both of whom were paid $6 million and both of whom are now on other teams.
Maybe Beane is trying to make up for one his most stunningly bad deals? Following the 2008 season, Beane felt like Oakland could compete the next season, so he shipped a package of players off to the the Colorado Rockies for future free agent Matt Holliday. Holliday came to Oakland, and the Rockies got Huston Street, Greg Smith and Carlos Gonzalez—yes, that Carlos Gonzalez.
Cespedes will make $9 million next year. That could prove to be a bargain, though. What if Cespedes is nearly everything some people think he is? What if he does have not just five-tool potential but is actually a five-tool major league player?
Those types of players routinely get deals that pay them upwards of $20 million a year or more (Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford). Cespedes' deal would make him a tremendous bargain, and we all know what Billy Beane will do with Cespedes if he turns into a superstar. He'll probably deal him to another team.